Cortisol and DHEA - The thing that makes you smoke

Part of my research is going to be into the short term mental issues of smoking. For instance when we talk to kids about smoking we always tell them about the long term effects that may or may not take place forty or fifty years after starting smoking. As with any young person that is a lifetime away and the here and now is all they are concerned with. But what if there were evidence that after only a short period of smoking you can develop some form of mental illnes. How appealing would smoking be then.

The reason I make this point is because it is estimated that around 90% of people suffering from some form of mental illness smokes. My question has always been which came first. The illness or the smoking. I have an illness called cyclothymia, a form of bi-polar. Basically the chemical balance in my brain was altrered and over a period of twenty years could not put itself right again. I asked the doctors what caused this, he could not really give me a definitive answer, He said it could have been triggered by a trauma, it could have been genetic. They really do not know.

So I put it to you, as my post explains before. Smoking alters the balance of stress hormones in the body to such an extent that the brain cannot differntiate between real stress brought on by real life situations and the artificial stress brought on by the over production of cortisol due to the chemicals in tobacco. Over a long period of over exposure to cortisol the body eventually has to adapt to cope with it and this is where the transition occurs that fools the body into thinking that this level of stress is normal and that any slight decrease is seen as relaxation.

I like to use analogies to show what I mean and one was that of a boiling pot on a stove. When you are a non-smoker the heat is only switched on when their are genuine reasons such as stressful situations or visible danger. When this happens the heat is turned up so that the water starts to warm up just enough to cope with the situation. When the stressor has gone the heat is turned out completely. However as a smoker the heat is always on. it is left bubbling away as there is a costant flow of cortisol into the body that keeps the smoker on full alert. When the smoker thinks about smoking they feel the stress and the heat rises quickly until it is boiling. However because there is no visible reason for the rise in stress it is very difficult to turn the heat down and it continues to boil away. What the smoker has learnt though is that by smoking they can actually stop this boiling, not by turning the heat down but by the introduction of nicotine which stimulates the production of DHEA. It is like pouring cold water into the pot. for a short time the water cools enough to stop boiling but after a while that same cold water will heat up and start to boil just like the rest.

The only way to turn the heat out is to turn off the gas (cigarettes) and allow the water to cool. (decrease the flow of cortisol and increase the procduction of DHEA) and all this while still trying to cope with genuine everyday stressors such as quitting smoking. Seems impossible but by acknowledging that the feelings you have when you quit are not some form of demon or out of control train. It is anxiety and only by dealing with anxiety in a new way will the smoker be able to address these feelings.

The easiest way to re-balance the levels of cortisol and DHEA are by exercise and deep breathing, both release the other hormones that regulate the bodies emotional reactions, Adrenalin and endorphins.

This is the chemical reason why many find it hard to quit but there still needs to be a change in the smokers perception and attitude of what they think smoking does for them. Not until they see that smoking is the cause and not the cure will they let go of smoking as a safety net against anxiety and stress. However understanding that it is not their fault or some inherent weakness that is causing them to carry on smoking can go along way in this process and that is what my research can hopefully do.

Author's Bio: 

Looking at the reasons why people carry on smoking rather than the reasons they shouldn't smoke. Unique approach to quitting that will have you in no doubt that it can be done. Looks at issues such as 'Who told you what smoking was?' 'What do you believe?' and 'Why do I have to fight'. Includes sections on Coping techniques, Self hypnosis and wieght control. You can quit smoking you've just not been shown how yet